January 22, 2007

One Year Evaluation: Morales's Government

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On January 22, 2006, Morales took office with high expectations. It's been one year since then, and many people are asking what has the government achieved in this year. Well, yesterday, Morales, his government and his party, MAS, celebrated with a big party in the famous San Francisco square (renamed Heroes square), in La Paz. Aside from music, the people who got together had the opportunity to hear a speech by Evo Morales, once again. In this speech, Morales gave a name to his efforts and called it the Democratic and cultural revolution, headed by the social movements. He mentioned that in Sao Paolo, Brazil about 20 thousand people met to celebrate this government's first year. Also, in Sweden, there were around 500 people.

Next, he talked about why is it important to celebrate this one year. He said that his opponents once argued that an Evo Morales's presidency was going to last 6 months only. However, he said, not only his government lasted longer but it has valued the Bolivian peso, in recent times. He also highlighted the fact that a great part of the Bolivian foreign debt has been forgiven. He said that hours before giving that speech, the BID had just condoned 100% of the debt. Morales continued saying that those people who said this government was bad for Bolivia were wrong.

Then he remembered everybody that his government nationalized the hydrocarbons sector, it recreated the national energy company and it has drawn plans to industrialize the natural gas. Additionally, he said that his government will, this year, nationalize the mining industry. He also talked about the INRA law (agrarian reform), which will end the latifundio (large property of land) in Eastern Bolivia. He said that this government will redistribute land and will mechanize the agrarian industry. He pointed out that the government is giving two tractors per municipality so people will use them to produce products.

He also talked about his discussions with other presidents in Brazil in the Mercosur meeting, where they discussed Latin American growth. He said that he found out there that Cuba headed the Latin American economic growth, with 11% p.a., ahead of Argentina and Venezuela. To that he added that Bolivia, since 1970 has always had a fiscal budget deficit, but now for the first time Bolivia had a 5% surplus. This was thanks to the nationalization and collection of taxes.

Nearing the end of his speech he remembered that a year ago, at this time, Garcia Linera and him did not know how to organize themselves. They did not have a plan. But, now results could be observed. Also, he said that he had much hope that the Constituent Assembly will be given all powers to be able to change deeply the structure of the Bolivian system. He said that this change process would be sustained by the organized people of Bolivia. For the first time, he said, "we saw that the government reported its achievements to the Bolivian people in Cochabamba. Before, we saw that the government would report to the IMF or the World Bank." He defined his democratic and cultural revolution as having four pillars: social movements, constituent assembly, congress, and executive.

This speech noted the advances of Morales' government. In another report published by the governmental press agency, the government highlights its achievements in foreign policy. It says that the most significant achievement was convincing the Chilean government to include the sea access issue in the diplomatic agenda. Additionally, this government assumed the presidency of the Andean Community (CAN). Within this framework, Bolivia and Venezuela signed many agreements. This report says that the Bolivian government was very busy this year. It went to four summits, including meetings with leaders of the EU and Africa. It met with the leaders of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Guatemala, Paraguay Uruguay, Venezuela (several times). It promoted the alternative to the FTAs, called Peoples Commerce Treaty. Among the treaties to highlight it can be mentioned that the international community has agreed to the following with Bolivia: Japan eliminated 100% of the Bolivian debt. With Germany the government signed the protected and biodiversity areas agreement; with Holland the government signed an agreement to cooperate in energy; also with Denmark it was signed an agreement about sustainable development, natural resources and environment; with China the government signed an economic and technical cooperation agreement. Additionally, with the Swedish government the government signed an agreement on alphabetization and micro credit for women, and with Italy the government signed an agreement for the financing of the Misicuni project (drinking water for Cochabamba).

This is the official version of the Morales government. However, the divisions are still firmly rooted. As the president gave a sort of state of the union address to congress, he reminded congress of the day he was destituted and trhown out of congress. He also named names and pointed to people present in the ceremony. As a result, the entire opposition faction of PODEMOS left the chamber. This was a tense moment, once again highlighting the deep divisions between Morales and the opposition.

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